Welwyn in sight of promotion with win over defiant Hitchin
PUBLISHED: 10:30 28 March 2018
Welwyn's promotion hopes from London North West Three remain firmly in their own hands after finally seeing off a spirited Hitchin side with a 38-32 win.
The bonus-point success keeps Welwyn in third but with a game in hand on the two sides above them, Grasshoppers and Stevenage Town.
Those two meet each other on the last scheduled weekend of the season and if Welwyn can win their three remaining matches, they will leap one, and possibly both, depending on the way things go.
This victory over already-relegated Hitchin was not without its nervy moments for the Hobbs Way-based rugby club.
Hitchin had taken the lead with a straightforward penalty before Welwyn scored crossed for the first try, a well-rehearsed catch and drive taking Ben Solez over from close range.
Will Evans ran a quickly-taken penalty in from 60 metres to put Hitchin back in front and the lead continued to swing back and forth before half-time with first Dave Francis scoring for Welwyn before Harry Cartwright and Jack Peachey handed Hitchin a 20-14 advantage at the break.
But the game was settled in the first 10 minutes of the second period with three Welwyn tries.
First William Freeston was driven over from another effective line-out and minutes later Rory Harcourt caught a loose kick out of defence, passing to brother Adam for try number four.
Josh Milton completed the scoring burst with a trademark charge from halfway.
Harry Di Lieto’s fourth conversion took Welwyn 13 points clear but Hitchin refused to throw in the towel and were rewarded when centre Cartwright crossed for his second try to narrow the gap to 33-27.
And even when Chris Sloan scored with five minutes left, the visitors still found another score, this time from Harry Elleston, to set up a nail-biting finish.
Coach Gareth Hughes said: “We played pretty well, although we couldn’t get away from Hitchin. Each time we scored, they came back and scored next.
“They have some exciting youngsters in their team and I am sure they have a good chance of bouncing straight back.
“But we ultimately achieved our goal of winning with a bonus point to keep the pressure on the top two.”
Welwyn’s next game is away at Finchley on April 7.